Chaos Magic : Basic Sigil Magic
by Michael Robin Cooke
Austin Osman Spare, illustrated by Michael Robin Cooke
Sigil magic as used in Chaos magic is a technique created by the great Austin Osman Spare. Austin Spare examined magic and occult as practiced at his time and from a pragmatic point of view evaluated what works to manifest results, and what doesn't. Austin Spare's conclusions can be boiled down to: will or clear desire, plus faith, plus 'gnosis' always produces a successful result.
'Gnosis' as a term may cause confusion - outside of Chaos magic the word has distinct meanings. In Chaos magic, Gnosis is a magically charged state of consciousness of 'no thought', Pete Carrol calls it a 'void'. Gnosis can constitute a singular state of meditative consciousness, a moment of sexual orgasm, a mind entranced with 'magical' ceremony, a mind blank from exhaustion or even the simple casual moments of absent-mindedness that marble a day's consciousness.
Faith comes easier to some than to others, but this isn't usually a problem. If you have been raised Christian or another faith it may be a very familiar concept, that Faith is a key to supernatural influence. That same religious background may have you convinced faith is a difficult thing to have enough of. Relax, If you have imagination enough to lose yourself in the fantasy of a movie or book, to 'feel' something in response to ceremony (Catholic mass counts) - you're capable of having sufficient faith for magical purposes. Faith is emotional, not intellectual - if something helps you feel magical, use it. The simple fact you attempt sigil magic intrinsically demonstrates faith that may be sufficient.
Will or desire is deceptively simple. What are you using magic for? Common answers are, riches, sex, health. Let's say it's wealth. Do you want wealth to become the envy of others? to sate the expectation of a spouse? to have freedom to help the needy? Whatever you want wealth for, it's always a means to an end. That end wealth would give you is what you REALLY want, and this is the more legitimate goal. People that are wealthy in a literal sense are people that are free of want materially, the irony is that such people are rarely materially rich and more commonly free of attachment in a Buddhist sense. This is how it happens that great magicians are often not wealthy - they realized freedom from even wanting it. To be the materially successful reality hacker, focus on want you really want and not the wealth to get you there.
If you want to become rich ANYWAY - direct your will to a goal specific and financial, abstractions may not deliver what you expected.
Question: Why sigil magic? Why not Hoodoo, Law of Attraction, or classic techniques from the Golden Dawn or Aleister Crowley?
Answer: Because the conscious mind will trip you up. Here's why:
The 'Duality of desire' - your will is almost always divided against itself. No matter how badly you want change, some part of you has adjusted to what is and fears change. The increase of wealth and prestige accompanying a job promotion is countered with the possible loss of camaraderie of co-workers who would become subordinates, the loss of being right right about the unfairness of the promotion process, and the loss of future compassionate and loving sympathy from co-workers assuring you you deserved the promotion.
The lust for result, perhaps related to the notion 'a watched pot never boils' is perhaps the number one sabotuer of successful magical results. This phenomena will very often prevent a result from manifesting as long as you are consciously anticipating it. The most successful magician cultivates an indifferent and non attached attitude towards results. If you NEED a job, have to have money to make rent - using magic effectively is extremely difficult as your mind is consumed in a way as to almost prevent your own magic from working. Sigil magic works brilliantly to minimize this difficulty (you may still be well advised to have someone else work magic on your behalf in such a circumstance).
There is also the 'psychic censor', the part of yourself that is skeptical and can sabotage a magical success and the requisite faith with comforting doubt that magic could ever exist. Usually rather than fighting this, it is helpful to work with it and maintain it. More on that later.
The 'New Thought' LOA techniques, those of NLP and 'positive thinking' have become backbones to sales and marketing. What they all have in common is the need to control thought. The problem is always that the nature of thought is to be chaotic, it's not a simple thing to control. And hardly ever is good coaching provided to help a person control thought. Zen Buddhism, parenthetically, in my opinion offers the most advance thought control techniques. Fortunately a lot of magic doesn't require much thought. Sigil magic divorces thought entirely from the critical launching process.
Sigil magic is different in largely taking the conscious mind out of the equation. The sigil accomplishes this by disguising the nature of the will, so the conscious mind is out of the loop. The subconscious handles everything, the heavy lifting.
Ideally you create several sigils, some for things you want very much, others for much lighter purposes, such as " I will enjoy a nice slice of apple pie". Then save the sigils together, without the statement of intent. and wait a week.
Now when you 'launch' a sigil, you are likely to have forgotten exactly which intent corresponds to which sigil. It's okay, don't try to remember, your subconscious remembers perfectly. And this way there's no duality of desire, no lust for result - the conscious mind is less likely to interfere.
The 'Psychic Censor', is that part of your brain that is skeptical and can and will actually edit your perception of reality to keep your ideas about reality comfotable and unchallenged. The sigil process keep interferance from the psychic censor to a minimum. But don't think to fault your psychic censor, it's useful. If when you finish a sigil magic spell, you allow your psychic censor to deny yourself the right to expect a result, it elim inates the lust for result quite well and forwards your magical success. Parenthetically, when working with spirits or anything that is too spooky for you - an excellent and effective banishment consist of setting the psychic censor loose and laughing at the proposition that anything 'spooky' could possible be real!
'Launching' the sigil involves looking at the sigil while experiencing gnosis, commonly masturbation is used as the moment of orgasm constitutes gnosis. Exhaustion from dancing, katas, holding an uncomfortable position... is also used.
If you take the unique letters from your statement, and rearrange them into phonetic nonsense words - you may launch the sigil meditatively by chanting these words as you would a mantra.
Be very careful creating your statement of intent. Your result will be exactly what your statement asks for. Just like almost all wishing folklore, how you state your wish is critically important.
If you are an artist, you can put a great deal of energy into the elaboration of your sigil as artwork. In this fashion the process of creating the sigil and 'launching' it can become one, as the creative process can, when intense enough, constitute 'gnosis' in its own right. I say this with the limited authority of my own experience.
Some Examples of sigils by Mike Cooke:
This last sigil, you may notice the inclusion of Norse runes. It's effective to accent the sigil derived from your statement of intent with symbols from other traditions, especially those you already have faith in! If you are Christian, for example, the inclusion of a crucifix may reinforce your submission to the will of God and transform the work into a form of prayer. The benevolent nature of the Christian God will certainly help the result manifest safely if that's your relationship with that Deity. If you work with other traditions those symbols may be effective for you too. I chose Norse runes as I'm part European and such symbols are probably relevant to some fraction of my ancestors (sigil magic always works, but how is a mystery - a hypothetical collective unconscious is one compelling theory, one that would make the beliefs of ancestors relevant).
Sigil Magic as presented here is a new technique, and subject to experimentation. Business interests have made sigils out of corporate logos quite unconsciously. Apple, Nike and McDonalds all have sigils/logos as or more familiar then even their business name.
Dream_maSigil This sigil (Flash plug in required), meant to help a community site failing due to the expense of bandwidth, is flashing in such a way as to perhaps stimulate a brain like Brion Gynson's 'Dream Machine'. If it succeeded or not in emulating a dream machine - it is irritiating to look at sufficient that if you forced yourself, it would exhuast you and thereby serve as a gnosis stimulant.
It is useful to maintain a 'Magical Diary', keeping record of your magic and results in your life. Sigil magic is powerful, embark on this technique to enhance your life and it will alter you. You will become more sensitive to synchronicity in life, and more confident in life being a game you have some say in.
Some people prefer the profile of a victim in life, it allows them to be right about their failure and allows them great comraderie with others and sympathy from some - it's a lot to give up if this describes you. The problem is that, really, it describes a lot of us - especially the addiction to being 'right'. Some Chaos Magicians have made a temporary habit of intentionally being wrong, just to break themselves of the addiction to being 'right'.
To begin a sigil magic practice, it is good advice to begin with desires that are modest enough you are very likely to enjoy easy success. Sigil magic is a reality hacking technique and the more ambitious the goal, the more time and perhaps unlikely the coincidence needed to produce the result. The fact of early easy success fuels the faith you'll need for more ambitious works later.
Aleister Crowly gets credit for expressing magic as any willed act, even that of simply blowing one's nose. If you are to become a magician, there's no point at which the magic ends. If you use sigil magic to grow your business, it's more likely to be effective the way you want if you give the magic a path to succeed. Meaning you spend money on advertising, work on search engin optimization, review your inventory and so forth. If you sigil for love, it's best to approach people you could be interested in. If you do nothing, sigil magic can bite you in the ass as it has to find a way to render the result any way it can. Just some ugly examples - you business succeeds due to competion going out of business for reasons that are also hurting your business, You become wealthy from a courtcase following your being paralyzed in an auto accident... and so forth.
So the usual life transforming advice is still extremely relevant when it comes to sigil magic. Make your goals specific, determine the steps you need to take to meet that goal realistically, give your goal a specific timeline. And then -DO IT! Sigil magic will supplement this process brilliantly, giving you confidence of supernatural support and the reality of supernatural reality hacking support!
Have fun! Transform your life! Hack life as you would a video-game!If you have any question or want to share your experiences, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org